Joe Biden has long denied that illegal immigration constitutes a crisis for the country. The flood of illegal immigrants, he once said, is not a “burden” but a “gift.” So it is no surprise that he and his aides are quibbling over the description of what’s happening now at the border as a “crisis.” Their capacity for denial is well established. To them, the border mess is a mere “challenge,” by which they mean a political problem.
To deal with that political problem, Biden is denying that he threw out a welcome mat for illegal immigrants. But, of course, he did. He ran on a platform of open borders. He made a special point of telling voters that he intended to occupy a position to the left of Obama on illegal immigration. He called Obama’s deportation policy a “mistake” and promised a more lax one. He defined “asylum” in the broadest terms possible and urged those seeking it to “come” in a 2019 debate.
In his bidding war for the affections of the far Left, Biden enthusiastically adopted all the tenets of open-borders liberalism. He supported sanctuary cities and hatched a plan to turn America into a sanctuary country. He scoffed at Trump’s wall, dismissed the value of merit-based immigration, and in effect declared illegal immigration a non-issue. He said that illegal immigrants were “already Americans,” and he endorsed the expansion of the welfare state, including free health care, to accommodate them.
To the extent that he discussed stopping illegal immigration, he spoke of a pie-in-the-sky plan to throw money at the countries from which illegal immigrants are coming. But concrete measures to stop illegal immigration didn’t interest him. Instead, he attacked those who took the problem seriously, casting them as nativists. He allowed himself all sorts of cheap shots and cavalier remarks at their expense.
In his bidding war for the affections of the far Left, Biden enthusiastically adopted all the tenets of open-borders liberalism.
The crisis at the border grew out of all these flaky ideas and glib attitudes. The migrants massing at it heard Biden’s message of invitation loud and clear. That’s why some of them are sporting Biden T-shirts and attributing their journey to his victory. It is a little late for Biden to pretend that his pro-amnesty signals didn’t encourage them.
This crisis early in the Biden administration is exactly the one that everyone should have expected. It is a crisis characteristic of the central weakness of the Democratic Party’s frivolous governing philosophy: it ignores the essential functions of the federal government while pursuing extraneous ones. It is a crisis that also illustrates the party’s weakness for putting the interests of foreigners ahead of Americans.
And so we now witness the spectacle of a president calling out FEMA not to help Americans but to help illegal immigrants. Biden is also looking for hotel rooms for them. These are the predictable policy consequences of a president who viewed “America First” as an irrational concept and treated the common sense of the previous administration with utter contempt.
Biden and his aides have the audacity to say that they inherited a crisis. No, they created one by deliberately dismantling tried-and-true impediments to illegal immigration. They replaced Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy with a de facto “come to America” one. Even liberal media reports gingerly admit that the crisis is due to the Biden administration moving away from Trump’s stance of “zero tolerance.”
Zero tolerance gave way to such mixed messages from the Biden administration as “We are not saying don’t come. We are saying don’t come now.” Now the Biden administration claims that the “border is closed.” But migrants aren’t fooled. They can see that those who make it to the border get in, one way or the other. They are watching what the Biden administration does, not what it says.
Instead of admitting that the border remains open, the Biden administration relies on the euphemism that it is treating migrants “humanely,” as if the previous administration’s prosaic enforcement of immigration law was inhumane. It wasn’t. The Trump administration’s policies were no different than the policies in countless other countries, including Mexico. If you sneak into Mexico and break its immigration laws, it doesn’t find a hotel room for you but a jail cell.
The grim irony of the Biden administration’s “humane” policy is that it is producing inhumane conditions on the border — the very “kids in cages” scenario candidate Biden decried so loudly. Completing this picture of hypocrisy is that the Biden administration won’t let journalists see those conditions.
The ideological roots of this crisis could not be clearer. It can be traced back to liberalism’s essential view of illegal immigration as a matter of no great consequence and its hostility to rudimentary nationalism. A president who sees illegal immigration as a “gift” and not a crisis will approach border issues lackadaisically and simply cannot summon the will to seal the border. Elections have consequences. So do bad ideas.
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